I recently was given the opportunity to play M’Lynn Eatenton in Steel Magnolias with Plain Stage Theatre. The goal of this new company is to provide known roles to actors who are needing to be seen, and build their resume within a very short period of time. In this case we had 10 rehearsals and 4 shows all within two weeks.
When I got the offer I was ecstatic, and scared. For the last few years (well maybe a decade) I have only done musicals. Going back to do a play was scary for me. How was I going to memorize all of those lines without singing and dancing? I have not done a major role in almost two years (I took the time away to have a baby), and memorizing a play was just not something I was in practice with. I have been thinking about doing plays, but I just always ended up in musicals. For anyone who doesn’t know the show, its six women on stage almost the entire time, talking….and talking… and talking. I was so scared I wouldn’t be able to do it.
I was lucky though, this play is a wonderfully written play and the part was made for me. I connected with the material right away and the words just stuck. It also helped that I had a team of amazing women to work with. I think because of the short rehearsal period the six of us just really had to listen to each other, there was no time to get “comfortable” in the role, we literally had to live it each performance. Sometimes we forget a major part of being a good actor is being a good listener.
Although the audiences were small, the show was a huge success. I felt so attached to M’Lynn and her feelings towards her daughter and her daughters death (spoiler alert..lol) that I was truly able to connect my emotions to my acting. It was the most comfortable and real I have felt on stage in a long time. Something that was so scary for me at the beginning turned into the biggest gift I could ever receive. I know now that I have a love for acting even more than I did before. I know that I CAN do it. I know that I can bring an audience into my world on stage, being present and truthful…and even make them ugly cry. I cannot thank Marion Abbott enough for giving me this gift. This is something I am never going to forget, and I will bring with me to everything I do in the future.
As M’Lynn says “I don’t know if I’m lucky to have what I have, or lucky to know what I have.”